Meanwhile, in the Grammar Crisis room....

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Arrested, We Hardly Knew Ye

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Arrested Development is truly dead.
Series creator Mitch Hurwitz has hung the series up, and moved to (hopefully) greener pastures. This means the deal with Showtime is officially dead.
Frankly, they were hinting at it in the last episode of season 3.
So pay your last respects, buy the DVDs...and find another unwatched but brilliant TV show to get attached to.
(Yes, I linked to myself. Big whup! Wanna fight about it?)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Story and the video game

A really interesting article on the CBS News website asks when (if ever) video games will have a "Citizen Kane" moment. When will games come into their own as a storytelling medium, as opposed to game stories merely providing the backdrop for the gameplay? Is that a desired outcome? Is it even possible? The article addresses these questions well.
Roger Ebert has also questioned whether video games could be considered art. He has said "video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control."
My take?
Arguably, the best films/books are character-driven. The actions of the protagonist/antagonist move the story inexorably forward towards a conclusion. The end of the story is inescapable; it is the product of the characters involved. Charles Foster Kane dies the way he does because of his choices, his flaws and his reactions to the decisions of others.
Main characters in video games generally aren't strongly characterized. The characters of Nintendo games, for example, are silent or, at most, monosyllabic. "It'sa me, Mario!" isn't exactly a Shakespearian soliloquoy. The reason for this is simple. Video game players generally don't want a character foisted upon them. They enjoy making their own decisions. The success of the Grand Theft Auto series exemplifies this; players are given a completely open-ended experience. They can elect to undertake the given missions, or they can merely run around, carjacking at random. Similarly, a number of gamers dislike the Metal Gear Solid series (largely regarded as one of the most film-like games) because the player is forced along a track, forced to follow along with the rigid story.
These factors paint our potential video game auteur into a corner. He must create a strong, emotionally affecting story while taking pains to avoid forcing a story on an unwilling audience. A near impossible task.
Will games eventually rival films as "high art"? I believe it is possible, but someone needs to totally re-invent the conventions of the medium. The graphics arms war would have to take a backseat to this undertaking.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Movie News, Robot Views and the Possibility I'm Going to Hell

From the "Could Samuel L. Jackson be more hardcore?" department: Apparently, Snakes on a Plane is doing a five-day re-shoot to make the movie, yes, even more intense. More violence, gore, nudity, and profanity have bumped this movie up from "interest" to "must-see" in my book.
Furthermore, I've learned that the term "Snakes on a Plane" has entered into the cultural lexicon as something similar to "shit happens." I now make it my life's mission to use this as frequently as possible. Because I'm sick and tired of these snakes!
From the "Stayin' Alive" department: A key part of the trailer for the new movie Stay Alive appears to be the line: "Don't you get it? If you die in the game, you die for real!" Apparently, a good number of people didn't get it, as the line is repeated twice in the TV ad. Is the concept of the movie so complicated that it warrants two explanations?
Robots, Robots, Robots!: I'm going to be covering the second of half of the FIRST robotics competition tomorrow. Look for further coverage to follow.
From the "I'm a horrible, horrible, person" department: Randy Quaid is suing the producers of Brokeback Mountain because they allegedly underpaid him. According to him, the moviemakers claimed it would be an arthouse flick, unlikely to turn a profit.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the producers of Brokeback Mountain "stiffed" Randy Quaid.
And that's why I'm going to hell.

Monday, March 20, 2006

I'm sorry for my incurable laziness

Well, I am.
I come off a weekend where I was called "bro" much, much too often. Now, I am not averse to the occasional "bro" as a term of endearment, but it becomes repetitive quite quickly. I am not anyone's bro, nor do I really wish to be. I went through great pains to ensure my only-child status (it's amazing how a little medical knowledge can go a long way) and I do not intend to have it revoked.
I just realized: I'm a jackass, aren't I?
I don't intend to be. I'm merely suspicious of overly friendly people. Maybe it's because I'm an east-coast-raised cynical bastard, but anyone who is too nice is eerie. Everyone should just start off neutral, and work out the friend-or-foe system from there.
By the by, V for Vendetta was a damn good movie. The people I went with, though, were disturbed by someone in the audience booing at the end. The thing is, we couldn't quite figure out who would be disappointed in that movie.
It gets even weirder: I have seen my share of movies in my day (due to a low-grade obsession) and I don't remember anyone ever booing a movie, good or bad. I mean, I've seen the House of Wax remake, for God's sake. No boos. Creepy.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Forgive me my football fandom

The following post illustrates why I should never be allowed to talk about football.
Now, on Sunday, Newsday presented two alternate plans to fix the New York Jets football team, which has been upon rough times lately. They're both wrong, to my mind.
Well, that's unfair. They both make some good points, but their imaginary GM moves seem ill-fated, at least to my mind.
Well, I have taken my extremely valuable (read: useless) time to conjure up a plan to fix the New York Jets. I have done this despite the fact that I am in no way a Jets fan.
  1. Get a veteran backup QB: There has been much talk about the Jets trading up in the draft to pick Matt Leinart. This is a mistake. This would leave the Jets in a quandry, especially if Chad Pennington gets hurt again (and he has been shown to be injury-prone). If they pick Leinart, their QB options would be an oft-injured starter and an inexperienced rookie. Not a formula for winning. Instead, they should acquire a steady, cheap, unspectacular veteran, ideally someone in the Brad Johnson mold. Jon Kitna might've worked, but he was snapped up by the Lions. Get someone who can win you some games if your starter gets injured.
  2. No, not Patrick Ramsey: Patrick Ramsey was placed on the bench by the Redskins in favor of Mark Brunell. Then, last year, the Redskins drafted Jason Campbell, in the first round. Joe Gibbs, the Redskins coach, is not blind to talent. If he really thought Ramsey gave them a great chance to win, wouldn't he have started Ramsey? Wouldn't he have avoided spending another first-round pick on a quarterback?
  3. Trade down in the draft: The team has many, many holes. A spectacular pick would energize the fans, all right, but it wouldn't solve all this teams problems. One team has to be desperate to sign one of the big three QBs (Leinart, Cutler, and Young) and might give up the farm for the pick. Milk that team for all its worth.
  4. Sign smart, workmanlike veterans: The temptation at the start of free agency is to throw money at the most attractive player available. This is salary cap suicide, and big free agency players rarely play as well as advertised. Instead, pay moderate money to a large number of veterans. Thus, one can build depth and ensure that, if one player doesn't work out, another competent one is available to take his place. This was the formula to the Patriots success in 2001, and it paid off immensely.
  5. Draft a running back: But do it later in the draft. Curtis Martin has performed well, but the time has come for a successor to be named. However, the first round is a high price for a running back, especially for a team with many needs.
  6. Build the offensive line: One thing common to successful teams is good offensive line play. No matter how good a QB is, he cannot play if he's getting pressured constantly. No matter how good a running back is, he cannot gain yardage if there are no holes for him to run through. The importance of a good offensive line cannot be overstated, yet teams consistently ignore this to sign bigger names (the Texans, to their great detriment, never seem to field a good offensive line).
And there you have it, my completely inexperienced and untrained opinion.

Monday, March 13, 2006

On tree-climbing robots

It appears that even tree-dwelling marsupials (such as the friendly koala to the right) aren't safe from the oncoming robot invasion. The Rise project (same video here) has developed six-legged, tree-climbing robots that will eventually doom us all. (Shame, as my compound in Montana was largely tree-based).
On the plus side, these robots will eventually encounter the giant apes. The clash between these titans of the trees may yet spare the human race.
On a personal note, I notice I haven't gotten into too many fights to the death lately; perhaps my impressive 17-3 record intimidates too many people.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

It's Oscar-rific

We all know the Academy Awards on Sunday were more boring than reading tax-appropriations bills while on a long train ride. Jon Stewart was doing the best he could, but the crowd reacted like it was soaked in Valium. And then there were the montages: the salute to epics, the salute to film noir, the salute to montages, the salute to salutes. Basically, Hollywood was shown to be self-obsessed and self-congratulatory. The fact that it really is self-obsessed and self-congratulatory is irrelevant; when I turn on my TV, I want entertainment, darn it.
Therefore, as I am nothing if not gracious, I freely offer my sure-fire tips to make the Oscars interesting.
  1. As the winner gives an acceptance speech, show the worst movie that winner has ever been involved in. So, for Jake Gyllenhaal, show The Day After Tomorrow. For Ang Lee, show Hulk. For Clooney, show Batman and Robin. This will have the twofold effect of keeping the speeches short (as no one wants their worst work on national TV) and giving the winners a good dose of humility.
  2. On the same token, give a running commentary on which actor/actress/director/etc. is most likely to fade into obscurity or release a horrible, horrible movie next year. I want to know who'll make the next Catwoman. Who will pull the next Halle Berry?
  3. Have the two old guys from the Muppets who sat in the balcony and made bad puns while heckling people. That one's pretty self-explanatory.
  4. The running commentary mentioned earlier should be done by John Madden, for reasons of shear hilarity. Whether he's drawing out a really obvious point, or talking over one of the presenters, his contributions will be evident.
  5. 2-hour time limit. If Jack Bauer can end a hostage situation in 3 hours, why the hell can't we find out who the best ass-kissers are in 4?
  6. Executive override. If one of the presenters doesn't like the winner, he/she can just change it. Internet conspiracy theorists suggest Nicholson did it this year. If so, it just makes Jack that much cooler. Ask yourself: who the hell would notice? Or care? Just changing from one elite to another.
About the 36 Mafia winning an Oscar for "It's hard out there for a Pimp": Why? We've known for years that pimpin' ain't easy, but the song forgot to mention that it sure is fun. That alone should have precluded it from consideration.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


So Kyle and I were playing yahoo chess, and this girl (her username mispelled "cutie" as "cuite") comes in and asks (read "demands") us to boot her off. It seems she can't leave. However, what offended me most was the "YALL" in the request. So we decide that if she cannot help herself, she doesn't deserve free time. The following are the highlights of a multi-hour conversation in which she demonstrated her lack of understanding on religion, medicine, chemistry, geography, manners and basic spelling.

utter idiot: U GUYS ARE GAY
kyle: I'm bi
me: bicameral
kyle: because I'm Jesus
kyle: I swing all ways
idiot: OK
idiot: BEY
kyle: in many ways you may find peculiar, but...
me: there are things you have not considered
me: especially in the ways of deity-loving
idiot: U R TO BITCH
idiot: B...I...T...C....H
kyle: I'm 'too bitch' aren't i?
me: we know how to spell bitch
me: you already typed it
kyle: bitches come in all sizes and flavors...some bitches taste like butter, some have cankles
kyle: all are my children
me: some bitches you can't believe aren't butter
me: but then, you know they aren't
kyle: if you can't figure out how to leave this game, you should buy a helmet
kyle: and wear it always
me: it is not your place to understand
me: merely to purchase the helmet
kyle: and wear it like it supplies you with the meth that you require to keep your job at walmart and your illegitimate child.
me: the helmet represents his infinite love for you
kyle: god's
me: and walmart
kyle: we like kitties, and candy, unlike most people
me: most people would just choke the kittens with the candy
me: but not us
kyle: kitties wouldn't last long on the good ship lollipop
kyle: what did you call me?
kyle: i am...a BANANA!
idiot: OK BANANA
kyle: so there it is, the true identity of god
kyle: sitting in bunches at your local grocer
me: yet able to make long-distance phone calls
kyle: make your move, god
me: chess? you're right
me: know more about divine things
kyle: don't play illiterate
kyle: Jesus has asthma, and can't play demanding athletics
kyle: so what would you have him do?
kyle: finger his butthole?
me: slap you and call you 'nancy'?
me: what about atcha's back? is it cancerous?
me: of all of my creations, i regret back cancer most.
kyle: we go to hell...when we want to
kyle: in the winter
me: for satan has a killer tobbagon
kyle: and ball park franks
kyle: um....pardon?
me: do you question our sledding skills?
In conclusion, 5 a.m. conversations are fun.
P.S. All spelling errors are original, as are the caps.
P.P.S. This post may be long and obnoxious, but it's almost 6 a.m. and this is funny as hell to me now.
P.P.P.S. Kyle won the game, by the way.